Beach Read Of The Day

by Joseph Russell · June 24, 2008

Roald Dahl is known primarily for his children's novels, as well as his autobiographical works, Boy and Going Solo, but I'm a huge fan of The Umbrella Man, a collection of short stories for adults. Though unrelated, each story bears heavy traces of Dahl's penchant for the macabre, and the overall effect is rather like The Lottery, and Other Tales, only with less probable set-ups. We have a father who turns his ailing child into a bee through regular royal jelly feedings, an antiques collector disguised as a parson who watches a farmer destroy a priceless commode, a butler who convinces his uncouth master to invest in a wine cellar and substitutes the fine bottles for "odious Spanish reds"...

There are twelve in all, and except the centerpiece, Katina, which tells the story of little girl who befriends a group of fighter pilots living on a Greek island during WWII, each ends with a gut-punching twist. If you liked Maurice Sendak and Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, you'll love this.

[Image via Fantastic Fiction]